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12:00 AM Monday, 4/17/00 |   |

A BAND OF COUP-PLOTTERS HAS BEEN working to undermine well-marketed teen pop sensations and radio-fredly hip-hop/hard rock hybrids. While today's stars were workingon packaging, marketing and imaging, Kittie was in the basement practicing.

The four young women knew the day would come when the world of metal would be ready for their abrasive mix of locomotive riffs and dark melodies. So they practiced. They recorded some songs that earned them a record deal. They practiced. They played some shows around their hometown of London, Ontario, and beat back stage fright. They cut an album and before it was released, the phone rang.

"Sharon Osbourne called my house," singer/guitarist Morgan Lander said. "It was amazing. She had heard about Kittie and asked for a press package which included an advance copy of the CD."

The Ozzfest mastermind confirmed Kittie for this year's festival tour without seeing the band perform. The invitation that metal bands old and new would kill for was just handed to these unproven newcomers.

Or was it? Any band that comes out of nowhere to open for some of the hottest bands around is going to spark some cynicism. Plus, the members of Kittie are teenagers, female and managed by the father of Morgan and drummer Mercedes. How could this band not be the product of a Svengali-like marketing scheme?

The Lander sisters, guitarist Fallon Bowman and bass player Talena Atfield are young and nubile, but they're no pre-fab designer band. Songs like "Do You Think I'm a Whore" and their liberal use of the F word guarantee they won't be compared to Britney or Christina in this lifetime.

"It's a matter of perception," Lander said. "People have these preconceived ideas about us but I think those perceptions change as soon as they actually see us play.

"Because we're female, I think a lot of people misinterpret our songs. There is some sexual energy but the content isn't really about that. There's no ‘you broke my heart' song. We're dealing with more serious aspects of life."

They are especially serious about their live show. Rehearsing and writing songs in the Lander basement was like a general education course. These gals have graduated to the road now and are holding their own with seasoned pros.

"We started touring right after the album was released [in January]. We began touring with Slipknot and we switched over to Sevendust in February. Then we went to Europe and then we played some Canadian shows. We go back out for a headlining tour in May," Lander said.

  • Kittie

    Morgan Lander
    Mercedes Lander
    Talena Atfield
    April 17, 2000


Kittie played its first real gig in February 1998 and the foursome realized there is a big difference between the basement and the stage.

"The very first show we played – I recall this very well – we played here in town and it was total stage fright. Becoming a performer and being able to express yourself in front of crowds takes a lot of practice. It's like school; you have to learn how to do that. The first show was really nerve-racking but it was also a turning point. When we made it through that first gig, we were like, ‘Wow, let's go out and do that again!'"

The band began to stretch its touring legs last summer with two weeks of dates opening club shows for Skinlab. Lander said they knew it was time to get serious about the band and they needed to see how they would fare on the road.

They soon discovered that touring is a learn-as-you-go experience and Kittie has been getting a very good education since The Agency Group's Dave Kirby took over the band's booking.

"I'm not sure how we got involved with Dave Kirby. I know we had a couple other booking agents before but they didn't work out. We were trying out different people, seeing who could get us some good deals, good gigs. Dave is definitely a keeper," Lander said.

Other, more subtle, benefits came with playing night after night. The Kittie-grrls found they had a more cohesive unit. "We're not just four individuals on the same stage anymore; we share the same brain. We are a collective. When we're playing, I really understand what everyone is doing because we work as a whole."

Months on the road have given Kittie time to hone its live act to a super-sharp metal edge. The four close friends wield that power with a sense of self respect, even vocation.

"Playing the shows is definitely one of the most important things we do. Getting out there and presenting ourselves in the flesh and communicating to people is a really important aspect of being in a band. We'd rather be on tour than worrying about getting a video on MTV. It adds a completely different energy. There's this exchange of adrenaline that you don't get from listening to a CD."

By the time they get to the start of The Ozzfest 2000 tour, the bandmates will be more than ready to share that chemistry with the festival audience and prove what their Internet fans already know. Almost every single post on the band's official bulletin board shares the same opinion: "Kittie kicks ass."


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